This is perhaps the least interesting post in the long history of this blog.
But ... If it publishes, that means I can post from my phone. Which would be ayeet.
This is perhaps the least interesting post in the long history of this blog.
Sometimes, someone says something so profound and exact that all you need to do is copy and paste, people:
Brian Sabean deserves to be fired. He failed in his quest to upgrade the offense, and he traded away valuable pitching prospects for players who the team essentially already had. Garko has been as bad as Ishikawa was with the bat, and worse with the glove. And with all due respect to whatever we’ve gotten from Freddie Sanchez, Eugenio Velez has more hits, for more power, and a better OPS in the month of August, and he didn’t cost us a pitcher. Sabean simply does not know what to look for in a player, in a hitter, anymore, and its debatable whether he ever did. What he values in a hitter is provably worthless, and the way he goes about constructing a team is irrevocably flawed. This team has the pitching to win a title, right fucking now. Brian Sabean’s failure is the reason why they will not.
Proceed with your day.
(And while I'm at it, yes I did like the Garko trade because it was the right KIND of trade. But there's no denying that in the immediate short-term, it hasn't looked smart.)
Even more after reading this post on True Hoop which my friend Eno directed me towards. A former amateur athlete himself, Wallace wrote several great pieces that involved sport - including, of course, his epic Infinite Jest which had a tennis academy as one of the main locales.
What he's writing about here - and it's worth noting that this is a mere excerpt from a longer Esquire article called "The String Theory" located here - is about our expectations of athletes. We expect not only for them to be perfect on the field, but also off of it. We want them to be the everyman in day-to-day life and then the polar opposite while doing their job. But what we don't realize is that in order to achieve that athletic excellence, they've sacrificed so much that this is often virtually impossible:
But it's better for us not to know the kinds of sacrifices the professional-grade athlete has made to get so very good at one particular thing. Oh, we'll invoke lush clichés about the lonely heroism of Olympic athletes, the pain and analgesia of football, the early rising and hours of practice and restricted diets, the preflight celibacy, et cetera. But the actual facts of the sacrifices repel us when we see them: basketball geniuses who cannot read, sprinters who dope themselves, defensive tackles who shoot up with bovine hormones until they collapse or explode. We prefer not to consider closely the shockingly vapid and primitive comments uttered by athletes in postcontest interviews or to consider what impoverishments in one's mental life would allow people actually to think the way great athletes seem to think. Note the way "up close and personal" profiles of professional athletes strain so hard to find evidence of a rounded human life -- outside interests and activities, values beyond the sport. We ignore what's obvious, that most of this straining is farce. It's farce because the realities of top-level athletics today require an early and total commitment to one area of excellence. An ascetic focus37. A subsumption of almost all other features of human life to one chosen talent and pursuit. A consent to live in a world that, like a child's world, is very small.
The TrueHoop writer (Mark? I honestly can't tell from the site) adds that as athletes, they DO have free time - between practices and games, there is often lots of free time away from family obligations, etc. But as is pointed out, anyone who has traveled knows that that open time just falls away from you, that it's much easier to see what is on the TV (which also aids the loneliness of being in a hotel in a strange city) than to pick up a book, visit a museum or do something else to catch up on those experiences one may have lost as a youth.
The life of a professional athlete is one most can and should envy, and I do not think that Wallace was offering this piece up as an excuse for their lack of knowledge, grace or culture, but as more of an explanation for why athletes can lack some of the basic fundamentals we expect from people without such a singular focus, one they've had since grade school.
Like most things Wallace wrote about, it's a complex issue made just slightly clearer by his fantastic writing.
Every now and again, you read a book you can't quite shake. You may not have loved it, but you can't stop thinking about it. It doesn't happen all that often to me, but it just has, and that book is The Zero by Jess Walter.
The book is a work of fiction, set in the immediate aftermath of what is essentially the horrors of 9/11. In fact, it starts on September 12, and the lead character Brian Remy has just woken up to realize that he's shot himself in the head.
Whether it's intentional or an accident even he doesn't know, and he begins losing spots of time. Remy is a cop who seems to be retiring for a bad back he knows he doesn't have, and taking on a job leading a group he doesn't understand to do things he's not quite clear about. His job - the mayor of New York - called simply The Boss, and he doesn't appear to be acting selflessly. It's worth noting that author Walter tells this entire story without using real life names, including the World Trade Center or Al Qaeda, or even Ground Zero. In fact, the title of the book represents the slang name for the spot that other police call the site of the attacks. This has the effect of both extracting politics and raw memories from the actual events from the book, while maintaining the surreal horror of that day.
What's more, Walter is a phenomenally talented writer. Witness the following:
This is a life, he thought, smooth skipping stones bounding across the surfaces of time, with brief moments of deepened consciousness as you hit the water before going airborne again, flying across the carpool lane, over weeks at a desk, enjoying yourself when the skipping stopped, and spending the rest of your life in a kind of drifting contentment, slipped consciousness, lost weekends, the glow from television sets warming placid faces, smile lines growing in the glare of the screen. He drained his wine.
This is satire, but it's also a pretty immaculate portrayal of the unsteadiness the entire nation felt after 9/11, the rudderless-ness that makes the memory of that time so surreal.
It's not a perfect book; Remy is missing gaps of time and if you crave a finite description of exactly what happens during the times he can't remember, you're going to be disappointed. The formal plot of the book does resolve in a satisfying manner and the tone is so perfect and haunting that if you are like me, you'll have a hard time putting it down.
I haven't written about Big Brother 11 yet this season, mainly out of a lack of time -- but oh, it's time, baby. As they say, shit is going down in the Big Brother household.
(Wouldn't that be a much better tagline for the promos?)
As it was, last Sunday ended with a reference to a player breaking down on Tuesday night and being kicked out of the house - not by the houseguests, but by the producers. It's happened before, but rarely.
Click below not only to see who got kicked off, but my thoughts on the season thus far.
After hearing that someone was going to lose it, there were only three possible candidates. In reverse order of probability, I thought it would be:
3. Natalie. The irate little Tai Kwan Do champion is a serious hothead, and also seemed possibly rudderless after Jesse was kicked off.
2. Russell. The Mixed Martial Arts fighter is, perhaps unsuprisingly, a massive hothead. Even though the house swung in his favor last week, he is always a possibility to absolutely lose it.
But the obvious - and accurate - choice was ...
1. Chima. She was a massive diva in all of the bad senses of that word, and it was clear that when the tables were turned on her - in a game, let's remember - she couldn't deal with it. Apparently, she stopped adhering to the basic rules of the show - like wearing a microphone the entire time, going to the diary room when asked (which appears to have been a season-long trend), and such.
Losing Chima is no loss for the show, as she appears to be a totally loathable person. (With, it should be pointed out, a horrific childhood including being raped and attacked, according to what she told the household. Even still, her personality was, in a word, wretched. Completely self-indulgent, arrogant and mean-spirited.)
But the season has actually been quite good, because of the random guests whacked out personalities. Natalie managed to believe that Chima's willful breaking of the rules was the fault of Michelle who did the ungodly thing of nominating Chima for eviction - which of course, is the entire point of the game. As Kevin or Lydia mentioned, all Chima had to do was win the Power of Veto and it was over.
So, who do I want to win? Really, at this point I just can't handle it being Natalie - which seems unlikely. The only genuinely likeable people are Jeff and Jordan, but I'd be fine with Russell or Michelle winning as well. I actually have no idea who is going to win at this point, which means the rest of the year is going to be fun.
Good times in the Big Brother household.
My first reaction to the following news was disappointment:
'Friday Night Lights': Tyra won't be back until Season 5
The farewell arc for Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki) would have also occurred in Season 4, but Palicki has some work lined up for the next few months... As a result, we won't get Tyra's farewell arc until Season 5.
That's a bummer, and not just because Adrianne Palicki looks like this. She's a good actress and her character actually got quite interesting and evolved by the end of Season 3. Her absence will be noticeable, and missed.
But then, I read a little closer. What's missing from that last paragraph? This:
She'll be in the remake of "Red Dawn" and she's also in the third episode of "Supernatural's" fourth season.
Um, I'm sorry ... they're re-making Red Freaking Dawn? WOLVERINES! RPG!
I'm sure that this movie will suck. Indeed, were I an objective observer, I'd have to state that the original film also sucked. But I am not that objective observer, and indeed as a 14-year old, I saw Red Dawn in the movie theater three times in a single weekend.
Suffice it to say, I'm intrigued.
"When President Bill Clinton nominated Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg to serve on the high court, I voted for their confirmation, as did all but a few of my fellow Republicans. Why? For the simple reason that the nominees were qualified, and it would have been petty, and partisan, and disingenuous to insist otherwise. Those nominees represented the considered judgment of the president of the United States. And under our Constitution, it is the president's call to make."
John McCain voted against Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court today.
Why? Several reasons, probably. Most notably is that he's a bad loser, that he's now part and parcel of the hard conservative right and also that he almost assuredly said the above in a desperate attempt to appeal to voters who normally wouldn't vote for a twisted old codger like himself.
Remember when the media was desperate to paint McCain as a maverick? As someone who didn't just do whatever all the other Republicans did, but was his "own" man? Yeah, I do too. Glad everyone has realized that if that was ever true, it surely isn't any more.
John Sidney McCain, you are a sad, bitter old man.
In the meantime, congratulations to Associate Justice Sotomayor who by all evidence will be a superb Justice.
The following article was forwarded to me by a buddy of mine I'll call "Colorado Mike." Colorado Mike is actually from the Bay Area, but now lives in the second most beautiful state in the land instead of the first and keeps up-to-date with the Giants as well as anyone I know.
Here's a little snippet from this article:
[Brian] Sabean has earned the right to see youngsters such as [Madison] Bumgarner and [Buster] Posey in San Francisco, whenever those days come. They represent Sabean's handiwork, they're highly touted and eagerly anticipated. Wouldn't it be a shame to brush him aside now and deliver this to a new G.M.?
A shame? For him, sure. But for the Giants, really who gives a flying fart?
This is not how you run a business, folks. (Or, at least, not the way you should.) No one has ever accused Sabean of not being able to fill the system with pitching prospects - Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are just the tip of this iceberg. (Of course, that iceberg is a bit shallower after the Garko and Sanchez trades.)
The basic premise of the article is that Sabean spent the first decade with the Giants trying to surround Barry Bonds with veteran hitters in an honest attempt to win a World Series, something they came quite close to doing in 2002, of course. That's a valid point, but even though Bonds only left the team two seasons ago, it's been years since it was clear that the team needed to start rebuilding.
Quick, name an offensive player the Giants developed who is thriving on the roster? OK, now name someone who isn't named Pablo Sandoval.
I don't doubt that there are other good hitters in the Giants organization, but there aren't nearly enough. And worse yet, in the midst of this sudden sea change of perspective that writer Monte Poole talks about, Sabean signed over the hill veterans like Edgar Renteria, Aaron Rowand and even Randy Winn, while ignoring guys who could genuinely help the team, like Adam Dunn.
All evidence points to the fact that Sabean got lucky with Pablo Sandoval, and that he rarely, if ever, takes advantage of the market.
Since joining the Giants in 1997, under Sabean's watch the team is (as of this writing) 1092-958 for a 53.2% winning percentage. That's not bad, but it sure ain't great either. But wait, it gets ... worse.
Since 2004, the team is just 354-401, for a 46.9% winning percentage. That's truly awful. And isn't that enough time to right the ship?
Look, the team is currently 12 games above .500. Things are looking good and there are bright signs in the future. But to give Brian Sabean credit for all of this is truly the mark of the insane, or at least an ass-kissing columnist. Whether or not he gets an extension - and my guess is that he will, because the world conspires to make me crazy - it's not because he "deserves" anything. He's made his money, he has one of the greatest jobs in the world and he isn't all that great at it. Let's all agree to deal with this, and move on, shall we?
I haven't really posted on the current insanity that is the Birther movement, those who insist that President Obama wasn't born in the United States, despite plenty of evidence that proves otherwise.
Why hadn't I posted on it? Sure, there are reasons like the fact that I'm lazy, distracted and busy, all in one. But Eugene Robinson flat out nails it here:
Trying to analyze the "birther" phenomenon would mean taking it seriously, and taking it seriously would be like arguing about the color of unicorns. About all that can be said is that a bunch of lost, confused and frightened people have decided to seek refuge in conspiratorial make-believe. I hope they're harmless. And I hope they seek help.
If you need a good laugh, check out "Birther Queen" Orly Taitz (who is somehow both a lawyer and ... a dentist) go positively nuts on MSNBC:
I was traveling for work yesterday, and when I got to my hotel room, I found myself watching some show on ESPN with Colin Cowherd and a blonde woman who looked a bit like Cameron Diaz. (Apparently her name is Michelle Beadle, and she seems competent enough. What's more, she's certainly patient to be dealing with the ninny that is Cowherd.)
Let's dispense with the fact that on this broadcast, Cowherd stated that there is scientific proof that vegetables aren't good for your health. Read that again, then shake it off.
What irked me was that Cowherd, like so many others, made the following observation - I'm paraphrasing, but not in any material way:
The 49ers have the worst quarterback situation in the league.
Now, I'm not here to tell you that their QB situation is great. Obviously, that isn't true. But with Shaun Hill and Alex Smith, there is some promise. But forget about the Niners - isn't there some other teams out there with quarterback issues?
Take, for instance, your Minnesota Vikings, who so desperately tried to woo King Favre out of retirement to no avail. Are Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels significantly better than Hill and Smith? I know Rosenfels looked okay last year, but he wasn't even #1 on the depth chart in Minny. I call shenanigans.
But wait, there's more! Let's visit Chuckie down in Tampa Bay. Who is lining up behind center this year? It's a toss up between Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich and Josh Freeman. I dare you to tell me that is a significantly better situation than in San Francisco. Note that McCown is slated to be the starter before you argue otherwise.
Indeed, I'd throw in your New York Jets, what with a rookie unknown in Mark Sanchez - certainly, he's promising but hasn't played a down - and Kellen Clemens. That's no great shakes. And by the end of the year, it says here that St. Louis gets added to this list, after the aging Marc Bulger suffers through a season with that receiving core. I haven't even thrown in Oakland with JaMarcus Russel, Jeff Garcia and a slew of other no-names.
My point is not that the 49ers have a quarterback situation for others to be envious of. I'm just saying, it's not clearly the worst in the league.
Oh, and also this: Colin Cowherd is a nincompoop.
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